RENO, Nev. – Presidential son Jack Carter easily won the Democratic primary to challenge U.S. Sen. John Ensign, while Nevada voters set up an intriguing governor's race and delivered a razor-thin victory to a GOP candidate vying for an open U.S. House seat.
Former President Carter's son easily advanced to the November general election, drawing 78 percent of the vote in Tuesday's Democratic primary.
He accused Ensign of being too cozy with the White House. "You know, he's voted for the Bush administration 96 percent of the time," Carter said.
Five-time U.S. Rep. Jim Gibbons won the state's GOP gubernatorial nomination, and state Senate Minority Leader Dina Titus won a raucous Democratic contest with 54 percent of the vote to Henderson Mayor Jim Gibson's 36 percent.
Gibbons had 48 percent of the vote, to 29 percent for state Sen. Bob Beers and 18 percent for Lt. Gov. Lorraine Hunt. Long shots in that race included a former porn star, Melody Damayo, who performed under the name Mimi Miyagi.
Gibbons, hoping to replace Gov. Kenny Guinn, a popular Republican who is term-limited, said the contrast between him and Titus is stark.
"I think the public is going to know and understand the choices couldn't be clearer. I'm a Reagan conservative and she's a Kennedy Democrat," he said.
Titus shrugged it off, saying, "I don't think those labels mean much."
The race for the open House seat was tight — a difference of just 428 votes, out of nearly 50,000 cast — and could create a quite a conundrum if the results are challenged.
The secretary of state's office would be responsible for overseeing a recount, but the winner of the race was the secretary of state himself, Dean Heller. He defeated conservative Sharron Angle, 24,781 votes to 24,353. Former Assemblywoman Dawn Gibbons, Rep. Gibbons' wife, was third with 17,328 votes.
"This is sweet. It could not have been any closer," Heller said of his win in the sprawling, largely rural 2nd District. "This thing broke in three different directions, but I believe the state Republican Party is going to rally around and we're going to win in November."
The Angle campaign said it was weighing its options and would not concede until looking at the final counts in each county Wednesday.
"We're not saying we're calling for a recount, we just want to see the official final numbers," said Jerry Stacy, a spokesman for the Angle campaign.
If the tally holds up, Heller will face Democrat Jill Derby, a member of the state Board of Regents who was unopposed.
In another contest, Republicans avoided a potentially embarrassing situation by nominating businessman Mark DeStefano for state treasurer instead of former state Controller Kathy Augustine, who died last month but whose name remained on the ballot.
Tessa Hafen, a former press secretary for Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, won her party's nomination to face incumbent Republican Rep. Jon Porter in the 3rd Congressional District.
Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley cruised to victory with 91 percent of the primary vote in her 1st District. She'll face Republican Kenneth Wegner, an unsuccessful U.S. Senate candidate in 2004 who won Tuesday night with 51 percent of the vote.